On the 12th of December 2023, a team from the Future farm visited Cho Agro dealers in Musika, Chongwe district. We sought to understand how the tractor contracting business we supported them to establish was performing.
Today, the demand for mechanization services has escalated to more than double. The Cho Agro dealers work with District Agricultural Coordinating Officer’s office to create awareness of mechanization services in periodic agriculture meetings. Their services have been popularized by media promotions and the success of a demo plot where land prep and planting by the Massey Ferguson equipment have resulted in increased productivity.
In the past two seasons, Cho Agro dealers have worked with individual farmers and organizations such as FAO, WFP, Conservation farming and Lukoshi in their out-grower scheme for service programme. Endorsements by these organizations highlight high-quality services provided by their AGCO equipment and operators trained at the Martin Richenhagen Future Farm (MRFF) have gotten them to attract more clients.
Cho Agro dealers rank highly in customer care and handling, service provision, reliability and quality of service. This is due to the operator’s training and refresher courses their operators undertake at the MRFF.
“Courses such as calibration of implements and the support from the technical team at Martin Richenhagen Future Farm enable better use of our equipment and serve our clients better. We are keen to meet our clients’ needs consistently. To do this, our operators need the right training to deliver their jobs. In the coming year, our five operators will be taking tractor servicing lessons and record keeping lessons,” confirms Mr Chongo
“Without any downtime/breakdown and depending on field conditions, the MF104 L45 hitched onto the MF 4708 rips between 5-8 hectares a day. Fields in Chongwe have tree stumps and live trees that prevent us from doing 10 hectares a day. We service ten farm blocks, each comprising 250 farmers. 2, 3 ha and 10-15 ha. Tomorrow we have to do land prep on 35 ha.” continued Mr Chongo.
The recorded growing community of mechanization in Chongwe and beyond presents challenges to Cho Agro dealers. The main challenge for this business is to meet the needs of its clients timely. However, the versatility of the tractor they have, i.e. the MF 4708, enables them to use the tractor with various implements and keep the business busy all year round.
Another challenge the business faces is the increased demand during the planting season – the short window period due to unpredictable weather patterns. The weather variability disrupts planning resulting in shorter periods where farmers demand the same services simultaneously.
Mr Chongo affirms that Tractor contracting services are profitable. “Our turnover for last season was more than 450,000 kwacha. We hope for an even higher turnover this year.”